1632
10 min 1 sec

Food Scientist Cooks Up Juicy Profits

Instead of working in R&D or academia, a PhD picks another path by honing his skills as a freelance writer focused on food science. It pays to specialize!
Blog Food Niche Ideas Writing

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What It's About

A doctoral student get's paid to write about cake and eat it too.

Business Model
Blog
Skills Required
Research & Writing
Complexity
Low
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Bryan urges other freelance writers: “Be willing to charge more. Your time is precious and if you have additional expertise, that's valuable too … It's easy to see writing as a commodity, but ultimately you're offering an expression of your thoughts and words to your client.” Just some food for thought.

Fun Fact

Bryan has eaten chicken feet, coagulated pork blood, and durian, the smelliest fruit in the world. Still, he draws the line at "piftie,” a savory gelatin dish from Romania that's similar to French aspic. His wife’s family is Romanian, so they convinced him to try it.

Notes from Chris

Episode 1632
Back in 2011, Bryan Quoc Le got accepted to PhD programs in chemistry. But he wasn’t sure if the time was right. His father had passed away the year before, so he needed time to reflect and clear his head. He set out to walk across the country and figure out his next steps.

He ended up walking 2,000 miles from his alma mater, UC Irvine, to New Orleans, Louisiana in about six months. The walk was a sort of social experiment to see how far he could go based on the generosity of others. People would just drive by, leave him money, food, or water, and drive away. Through that experience, he found he liked talking to people from all walks of life, sharing stories with anyone he met, and writing about his journey online.

A few years later, Bryan got married and his wife turned him into a foodie. He also got really interested in how food and science intersect. So, in 2015, he started a PhD program in food science. That’s the study of the science and technology involved in creating food at scale. After an internship, though, he realized that he didn’t want to be an R&D scientist for a company. He also didn’t want to do academic research.

Bryan asked himself: what was the sweet spot between what he was good at, what he liked to do, and what the world needs? It turned out that a new path had been marinating this whole time. He had a friend who worked as a freelance journalist and he liked the idea that writing is portable—it was something he could take anywhere. Plus, he loved to tell stories.

Between 2018 and 2019, Bryan earned about $2,000. He wasn’t exactly rolling in dough, but he’d tasted the fruits of his labors and knew he could grow his earnings even more. After a year of writing, he created a portfolio website using JournoPortfolio to help him keep track of his writing samples. He kept writing for free for the association to position himself as an authority in that industry and eventually moved up to managing their blog, Science Meets Food.

Bryan is now earning $4,500/month consistently and projects that he’ll hit $6,000/month in June if all goes according to plan. In the next year or two, he hopes to earn $10,000/month on a consistent basis by adding subdisciplines with high demand, like food safety consulting and technical documentation for food manufacturers

He also plans to add additional revenue streams such as writing a second book and starting a podcast. One of the limitations of freelance writing is that it’s hard to really scale up earnings, because you’d have to raise your rates or complete more projects and there are only so many hours in a day, so adding those revenue streams is smart.

He’s also in talks with a food startup company to become its spokesperson and chief storyteller.

 
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Quote of the Day
"Be willing to charge more. Your time is precious and if you have additional expertise, that's valuable too … It's easy to see writing as a commodity, but ultimately you're offering an expression of your thoughts and words to your client."
—Bryan Quoc Le #SideHustleSchool

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